The internet provides travellers with a wide range of platforms for them to find all of the information they are after. These include platforms like social media, online travel websites, and agencies amongst others. Then you also have physical locations like visitor information centres where they can get all the information they need.
But for tourism operators or brands operating in the tourism industry, the internet has made it possible for endless brand exposure opportunities. This has opened the possibilities for brands to build a strong and visible presence across various platforms.
One of the most important tools available for tourism operators is Google My Business. This online tool helps you in getting listed on Google, the most widely used search in the world. Google gives you the tools to optimise your business listing which gives you tremendous potential for gaining increased exposure to their target audiences.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- Why it’s important to list your business on Google My Business;
- How and when your listing appears;
- How to claim your free Google business listing; and
- Tips on how to optimise your listing.
Why Is Your Google Business Listing Important?
Search engines are now like a universe of information and they are the go-to resource for every need and requirement of the end-user. A user now prefers to look for everything on google rather than taking the pain to venture out without any prior information. Nobody likes to go looking for things without a considerable amount of information beforehand.
The same is true when it comes to your business as well. No matter how accomplished or renowned your business is, you need to make sure it is visible on the most popular search engine in the world, Google. And your Google Business Listing helps you do that.
With Google My Business you can get the following with ease –
- Exposure – If you want your business to be visible amongst the crowd, listing your tourism business on google is the best thing to do. No matter how big or small or how new or old your business is your business will get a listing right at the top of the search results when a user searches your brand name or one of the services you offer.
- Clicks – Your Google My Business listing is a great source of traffic to your website. Your listing will be displayed on its own or as part of a pack of similar listing, and each listing includes a link to your website for further information. Simply put, if you don’t have a listing, you are missing out on traffic to your website.
- Directions – Your listing also provides users with information on how to find you, perfect for helping travellers looking for nearby businesses. Users can click on the ‘get directions’ button within you listing and the Google Map will appear will instructions on how to reach your place of business.
- Calls – When viewed on a mobile device your listing will show a ‘call now’ button. This call-to-action allows users to get in touch with you easily directly from the search results. This feature is a great tool that allows users to find you contact information without needing to go hunting for it on your website.
How & When Your Business Listing Appears?
Now that you are aware of the importance of business listings how and when do you think these listings appear in the search results? There are a couple of ways in which your Google Business Listing will appear in the search results.
Direct Listing – Brand
This type of listing is known as a brand listing or direct listing where the customer can search your business directly. According to a BrightLocal study, your Direct Listing accounts for 16% of views of your business listing.
Your business will usually be listed as the only listing and it will appear either on the right-hand side of the search results (desktop) or at the top of the search results (mobile). The information available from your direct profile listing is:
- Business name
- Business category
- Opening hours
- Phone Number
- Services you offer
- Social links
- Posts to your listing
As you can see there is quite a bit of information displayed about your business, right at the top of the search results.
Discovery Listing – Map
Another type of listing is where the end customer searches for a product category or service that your business offers, and your listing appears in the search result next to two or three competitors and a ‘more places’ options to view an entire list of businesses that relate to the search.
According to the same BrightLocal study mentioned above your Discovery Listing accounts for 84% of views of your business listing. This suggests that there is a significant amount of exposure available for your brand if you have a properly optimised business listing.
We call this grouping of listings the ‘Map Pack’ as they are usually accompanied with a map that shows pins for each of the businesses listed. The Map Pack usually appears at the top of the search results on both mobile and desktop devices. The information available from your discovery profile listing is:
- Business name
- Business category
- Opening hours
Users can click on one of the discovery listings and their full profile will be shown, which includes all of the information that is in the direct listing. The discovery listing provides a great opportunity for businesses to be found for the services and products that they offer. Google determines which businesses to list in this area based on:
- The business mentions the product/service in Google My Business listing.
- The business’s website mentions the product/service or has a page dedicated to the product/service.
How To Claim Your Free Business Listing on Google
So, how do you claim your Free Business Listing on Google? Just follow these simple steps to register and you are good to go:
Steps to Register a business in business.google.com:
- Go to Google My Business and Click Get On Google.
- Enter the name of your business and the address in the Search Box.
- Select the business name from the suggested matches, if there are no matches select the Add your business option.
- Ensure that you select a consistent N-A-P (Name, Address and Phone Number) format of your business across all platforms so that your searchability and visibility increase.
- Choose a category that best describes your business. Choose your business category wisely as anything incorrect here could mean your customers will not be able to find you.
- The next step is verification process, where you will receive a PIN, either via text or on-call or the old school way of receiving it via a postcard (usually takes 2 weeks to arrive).
- Enter the verification code to confirm your business and you are now live on Google and can begin optimising your listing.
Optimising Your Google Business Listing
Now that you have listed your business, you need to optimise it so that you increase the chances of it appearing in search. An optimised business listing is part of your overall SEO strategy and should be done in conjunction with any optimisation you do for your business.
The Basics of Optimisation
When it comes to optimising your business listing, you have to ensure that the basics are taken care of first. These include the following:
Business Description – Ensure that the business description that you enter is crisp and clear and not ambiguous so that the Google algorithms rank yours appropriately based on the description.
Business Hours – Make sure your business hours are accurate and updated so that the search engines show your business much higher up during your business hours than others who have not mentioned any.
Products/Service – Ensure that the product and the services that you have mentioned are correct so that when a customer is looking for a service you offer, your business is listed in the Map Pack.
Phone Number – Ensure that a valid Phone/Contact number is updated online for your business. Businesses with verified phone numbers are most likely to feature at the top than businesses with no or unverified phone numbers. So, a good phone number is a must for your business listing on Google.
Apart from the above basic things that you need to ensure to optimise your business listing one very important aspect that you must not forget is the use of Photos.
The Importance of Photos
According to recent studies, there is a strong correlation between the number of photos a business listing has to the number of actions it receives which can be website clicks, phone calls, etc.
The findings from the study state that:
- Businesses with more than 100 images get 520% more calls than the average business, while those with just one image get 71% fewer.
- Businesses with more than 100 images get 2,717% more direction requests than the average business, while those with just one get 75% fewer.
- Businesses with more than 100 images get 1,065% more website clicks than the average business, while those with just one get 65% fewer.
As such the use of photos cannot be underestimated. Ensure that you add photos of your business to your listing. Adding photos instils confidence in your customers about the existence of your business.
Get Your Customers to Add Photos
Not only is it important to add your own photos to your listing, but it a sound strategy is to ask and encourage your customers to do so as well. Customers can add photos when leaving a review on your listing.
To entice customers to take photos of their experience at your business you can consider creating a photogenic area or an Instagram wall at your business so they feel compelled to take and share photos of their experience.
Responding and Managing Customer Reviews
This is an important aspect of optimising your business listing. Google gives customers the ability to leave reviews of your business. These reviews give customers confidence in your product or service and go a long way to helping you win over new customers.
As such managing customer reviews and responding to them appropriately is extremely important as users quite often look at your response to both positive and negative reviews to form an opinion of your business.
Google also uses your reviews and your engagement with reviews as a ranking factor for your Map Pack listing. If you are active in responding to customer review then you increase the likelihood of increasing the position of your listing in the pack.
Tips for responding to positive reviews
Here are some tips to respond to positive reviews.
Be Thankful – If you were to get complimented for something in real life, of course you’d say Thank You!! And it is no different online too. Be sure to show your gratitude to people who like your services and took out the time to write and post a review.
Be specific – When responding ensure that you pick up cues and try to personalise your response. Generic responses are OK, but if you personalise your response others will see this great customer service and they will view your business more favourably.
Encourage them to come back – Adding a call-to-action at the end of your response will encourage the customer to return in the future. You could even try to offer some kind of special offer to further entice them to come back in the future.
Tips for responding to negative reviews
Here are some of the tips to respond to negative reviews.
Apologise for the Inconvenience and Be Thankful – So being thankful remains constant with a touch of empathy and apology for not being able to meet expectations. Negative reviews help businesses to change and improve things that are not working. Apologise to them and thank them for being honest.
Give an Appropriate Response – You are responding to the customer in a public forum. Ensure that there is no exchange of words or blame game in the response. Accept and acknowledge the feedback and take the next corrective measures.
Try to talk to them offline – We often like to resolve all issues behind closed doors. With a customer-facing business, this is needed so that you do not lose out on 10 happy customers due to 1 unhappy one. So, try to resolve their issues offline.
Keep it Short and Simple – Make sure you don’t drag it out too much. Handle reviews quickly, resolve the issue and thank them for their feedback.
Summary & Conclusion
You can use the power of Google My Business to list your brand and be found on the world’s most popular search engine for the services you offer.
Ensure that you claim your free listing on Google by following the steps to get your business listed, it will take less than 5-minutes to get your business listing live. Make sure you enter all the required information in detail, including your business name, address, phone number, and website details. Further, optimise your listing by adding images and photos and engaging with customers who take the time to leave reviews of your business.
Lastly, you can measure the exposure of your business listing in Google My Business by visiting the dashboard and click the Insight tab. Check-in on this report regularly see how users are finding your business online.